(KUTV) When the smallest babies are born, they may only have around three tablespoons of blood their entire body. Which is why it’s important to protect babies from phlebotomy related anemia.
“Phlebotomy is just a blood draw. Anemia is when you don’t have enough blood,” says Dr. Patrick Carroll, a neonatologist at Dixie Regional Medical Center.
Phlebotomy related anemia is putting the two together. Dixie Regional Medical Center along with Intermountain Healthcare is taking steps to reduce this type of anemia in babies. This is especially important in premature babies because they start out with such a small amount of blood.
First, medical providers ask themselves, “Is this test necessary?”
“Are we going to change our plan of care based on the results? And if we’re not going to change anything, we shouldn’t be getting the test to begin with,” says Dr. Carroll.
Next, they’ve figured out a way to use blood that in the past was thrown away.
“There’s a significant amount of blood that often is left in the placenta and that’s baby’s blood,” says Dr. Carroll.
There are usually several lab tests needed for premature babies. However, babies that small, don’t have a lot of blood to give. So instead of taking blood from the baby, they are taking blood from the cord blood. After doing this for several years, results have been impressive.
“Among babies that had labs drawn from the umbilical cord blood, their rates of anemia were lower. Their hemoglobin was higher,” says Dr. Carroll.
In these babies, not as many transfusions were need, and fewer medications were given to treat low blood volume and low blood pressure.
“When we used umbilical cord blood for the admission laboratory tests, the rate of bleeding in the brain seemed to decrease,” explains Dr. Carroll.
Another way to increase baby’s blood volume is with delayed cord clamping. This allows some extra blood to transfer into the baby and give them additional blood volume from the start.